North Westmorland: The insurrection of 1715

The Later Records Relating To North Westmorland Or the Barony of Appleby. Originally published by Titus Wilson and Son, Kendal, 1932.

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John F Curwen, 'North Westmorland: The insurrection of 1715', in The Later Records Relating To North Westmorland Or the Barony of Appleby, (Kendal, 1932) pp. 31-35. British History Online [accessed 30 May 2024].

John F Curwen. "North Westmorland: The insurrection of 1715", in The Later Records Relating To North Westmorland Or the Barony of Appleby, (Kendal, 1932) 31-35. British History Online, accessed May 30, 2024,

Curwen, John F. "North Westmorland: The insurrection of 1715", The Later Records Relating To North Westmorland Or the Barony of Appleby, (Kendal, 1932). 31-35. British History Online. Web. 30 May 2024,


Of which the Rebellion of 1745 was the sequel.

When James 11 issued an Ecclesiastical Commission with power to exercise all manner of spiritual jurisdiction; when a royal declaration of indulgence brought over from the Continent swarms of Jesuits, and when an order appeared forbidding the clergy to preach on controverted points of doctrine or to declare in anyway against the Popish religion of the King, then the Roman Catholics felt that their faith was being re-established in the kingdom and they began to regard James in the light of a sainted deliverer. Thus their consequent attachment to the House of Stuart which increased to such an extent that no sacrifice was deemed too great to restore the son of the abdicated monarch to the throne. The loyal earl of Derwentwater said, "I have never had any other for my rightful and lawful sovereign than James III."

Again, during the close of the reign of Queen Anne the opposition to the Act of Union revived and gained ground. Several Scottish lords, proud of their royal descent from an ancient line of kings and now beholding their nation, as it were, reduced to the condition of a mere province, began to correspond with James Francis Edward Stuart, "the Chevalier of St. George," to whom they assigned the title of James viii of Scotland; they were also negotiating the aid of Louis xiv in remembrance of the ancient alliance that used to exist between France and Scotland—indeed they waited only for a favourable opportunity to declare for the complete sovereignty of Scotland.

The plot then was first of all a religious one, to restore the Roman Catholic faith, and secondly a civil one to break the Union in order to restore to Scotland the line of its ancient kings.

The earl of Mar who acted as lieutenant to the "Chevalier de St. George" found himself supported by numerous Scottish chieftains and firmly established at Perth. The clans began to move; and the "fiery cross" (fn. 1) was carried from house to house with the knowledge that unless the men folk repaired immediately to Mar's camp the penalty of their disobedience would be both fire and sword.

On the 22nd of October the Highlanders were joined at Kelso by the Northumbrian insurgents led by the earl of Derwentwater (fn. 2) under the command of General Forster. And with them went the two chief chroniclers of the Rising, viz.:—Peter Clarke who was in the service of Mr. Crackanthorpe an attorney in Westmorland, acting no doubt as legal secretary to the earl, (fn. 3) and the Revd. Robert Patten of Annandale, formerly a curate of Penrith, as chaplain to Gen. Forster. (fn. 4)

When it is considered that the Jacobite army was composed of such discordant ingredients as Roman Catholics, High Churchmen, and Scottish Presbyterians who retained the old Puritan desire to purify religion from all popish adulteration, we cannot be surprised at the total want of unanimity which all historians ascribe to the campaign.

Late in the day of 31 October, after a long and toilsome march, the insurgents reached Longtown, and Brampton was entered on Tuesday the 1st of November.

The High Sheriff of Cumberland assembled his Posse Comitatus on Penrith Fell and with them was the Cumberland and Westmorland Militia, some three to four thousand strong, (fn. 5) under the commands of the earl of Carlisle and Lord Lonsdale. But when they learned, at 11 oclock on Wednesday morning, that the earl of Derwentwater's army, 1700 strong, was within six miles of Penrith they broke up camp "in the utmost confusion" and fled each man for himself leaving a few arms, a great number of pitchforks and some horses upon the fell. William Nicolson, Bp. of Carlisle, in his extra-episcopal zeal to suppress rebellion was also present with his daughter. Such is the account as given by the enemy.

About 3 o'clock in the afternoon the rebels entered Penrith where they proclaimed their king as James III of England and Ireland and James VIII of Scotland. A small party under Col. Oxburgh was sent to Lowther Hall to search for Lord Lonsdale but as he had retired to Appleby Castle they provisioned themselves and their horses, finding only two old women in the Hall. Robert Patten led another party out to besiege the house of Mr. Johnston of Eamont Bridge, collector of the salt-tax, to secure what Government money he had, whilst "we were entertained with a plentiful supper that was provided for the Bishop of Carlisle and his followers."

"In this town," says Patten, "there is a Presbyterian Meeting House which some desired to pull down or burn" but Gen. Forster would not consent saying "that he was to gain by clemency and not by cruelty." Surely it would have been more to the point if he had said that such an action would have alienated half his army.

It was here that the rebels first began to feel uneasy, for they were not being reinforced, as they expected, by the Jacobite gentry of Cumberland and Westmorland. The Government at an early stage had taken the precaution of securing in Carlisle Castle all likely leaders such as Howard of Corby, Warwick of Warwick Hall, Curwen of Workington while Dacre of Lanercost was detained at home helpless by a well-timed fever. Indeed only one man joined the army on its march to Appleby and he, deserting the next day at Kendal, was found guilty at the August Assizes of 1716 and executed because he had stolen a horse for the purpose.

As the rebels passed Whinfield Park through driving rain they provisioned themselves with rabbits and three deer belonging to the earl of Thanet.

At Appleby James III was proclaimed king and the public money was collected. The vicar did not officiate at a service in the church but he attended and joined in the Roman Catholic prayers. It was at this time that Thomas Wybergh, captain of the Militia and Mr. Sen-house were taken prisoners; also Mr. Baines, bailiff to lord Wharton, was confined in the Moot Hall because he refused to say where the Excise money was concealed and would not drink "their villainous health."

On 5 November the army marched for Kendal, "a town of very good trade." About noon six quarter-masters arrived and about 2 o'clock Brigadier Mackintosh rode in and was lodged at Alderman Lowry's house in Highgate. Later came the army through a pouring rain so that "no swords were drawn or colours displayed, only six highland bagpipes played them in." At the Cauld-stean they proclaimed James III, at the close of which, it is said, a Highlander thrust a halbert at a Quaker for not taking off his hat.

The earl of Derwentwater and his suite were lodged at Mr. Fletcher's inn, the sign of the White Lion; five other lords were accommodated at Mayor Thomas Rowlandson's inn, at the sign of the King's Arms; while General Forster lodged at Alderman Simpson's house in the same street. The General was a godson of Mrs. Bellingham who also "tabled in Mr. Simpson's house," and the story goes how that she met him on the stairs and gave him two or three sound boxes on the ear and called him a rebel and a popish tool, the which rebuff, it is said, "he took patiently."

The innkeepers and tanners were compelled to pay over a sum of £80 due as Excise to the Crown and at 6 o'clock the Mayor was taken into custody for not telling where the Militia arms were concealed. Nor did the rebels have greater success when they broke into the parish church expecting to find the arms there. It should be said, however, that they took no valuables from the church neither did they throughout the Rising maltreat any women or take what they were not willing to pay for.

About 9 o'clock on Sunday the 6th they marched out of Kendal, Francis Thornburgh joining them. There is a homely touch when we read that his father, William of Selside Hall, sent one of his servants to wait upon the son because he "was in Scarlet cloathes and stiled Captain Thornburgh." After a short march the army reached K. Lonsdale, proclaimed the King and collected the taxes. In the afternoon they attended service in the church when Patten read the prayers, the vicar not being present. Here Mr. Carus of Halton Hall and his two sons, Thomas and Christopher, joined the rebels. On Monday the 7th this greatly depressed army marched for Lancaster and on the 13th the unfortunate Earl Derwentwater surrendered at Preston. Thus ended the first attempt.

The sequel came about by the landing in Scotland of Charles Edward Louis Casimer, (fn. 6) otherwise "Prince Charlie," on the 24th July, 1745. A lad of twenty-five years who from the age of seven had formed a resolution to recover the British throne. "By virtue and authority of a commission of Regency granted unto Us by the King Our Royal father. We are now come to execute His Majesty's will and pleasure by setting up His Royal Standard and asserting His undoubted right to the throne of His ancestors."

The rebel army entered England on the 8th of November, 1745, and blockaded Carlisle with one half of the troops while the other half rested on Brampton Moor. On Thursday the 14th the City and Castle of Carlisle capitulated when the Duke of Perth took possession in the Pretender's name. On the 20th the van marched for Penrith and on the next day they reached Shap while the main body came to Penrith. On the 22nd the van reached Kendal but the main body halted at Penrith. On the 23rd the main body came to Kendal. On the 24th the van marched to Lancaster while the main body halted at Kendal until the following day.

Returning on 15 December the army reached Kendal. On the 16th the main body was at Shap but the rear guard were obliged to stop at Forest Hall, 4 miles beyond Kendal, because many of the ammunition wagons could not climb the steepness of the hill on account of the bad condition of the road. On the 17th the rear guard reached Shap and the main body arrived at Penrith. It was during the retreat of this rear guard on the 18th that they came into collision with the Duke of Cumberland's dragoons on Clifton Moor.

Lord George Murray who was personally engaged, has given the most trustworthy account of the skirmish and as Mr. Mounsey says (Authentic Account of the Occupation of Carlisle in 1745), "It candidly puts the affair as an attack by the rear of the Highlanders, 1000 strong, upon 500 of the Duke's dismounted dragoons pushed forward into the Clifton enclosures; and claims no glory for having expelled them, but simply takes credit for having withstood in the outset a movement which, if permited to have been effected, would in all probability have let in the whole body of the dragoons upon the retreating Highlanders."


  • 1. This awful summons of war was a cross-stick with blood on one end and fire on the other. Rae, History of the Rebellion of 1715.
  • 2. James Radcliffe, 3rd and last earl of Derwentwater, was allied by consanguinity to the "Chevalier," his mother having been a natural daughter of Charles II. He was born in 1689 and thus was only 26 years of age.
  • 3. A Journal of several occurrences from 2 November, 1715 in the Insurrection began in Scotland and concluded at Preston on 14 November. Kept by Peter Clarke.
  • 4. History of the late Rebellion, by the Rev. Mr. Robert Patten, London, 1717.
  • 5. Oldmixon's,Hist. of England, estimate. Clarke however confidently rated them at 25,000 while Patten speaks of "no more than 14,000."
  • 6. His mother was a daughter of a prince of Poland and thus brought the royal name of Casimer to her son.